Dr. Stein's Psychology Blog
My thoughts on mental health counseling, therapy, neuropsychology, collaborative divorce and more.
Fatherhood. Most dads-to-be imagine looking down at their newborn child and envision themselves welling up with positive emotions. They expect to be overjoyed and filled with love when they bring home their bouncing baby. However, after counseling men for over the past 15 years in Red Bank, New Jersey, I have learned that is not always the case. In fact, approximately one out of every 10 men experience symptoms of depression after the birth of a child. The condition is called paternal postpartum depression or PPD, and it’s real.
Are you or someone you know experiencing PPD? Check out the list below to find out.
5 Common Signs of Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPD)
1) Increased Irritability and Anger: Over my years of counseling men this has been by far the most common symptom. Men sometimes report, “I fly-off the handle easily since the baby came,” or “I want to scream at everyone,” or even “I worry I will get so mad that I will hurt my child.”
2) Withdrawing from Friends and Family: Because a dad with PPD is struggling with powerful negative emotions, there is a tendency for him to throw himself into work or other activities as a way of avoiding the family. One new father recently told me that he took a second job doing overnight stock, not because the family needed extra money, but because it allowed him to escape from being at home.
3) Regret: Fathers with PPD will often tearfully relate that having a child was a “big mistake.” These gentlemen mourn the loss of their lifestyle and worry that they won’t have the opportunity for their interests and hobbies. Left unchecked, regret leads to shame and guilt, allowing hopelessness to take over.
4) Emotional Detachment Towards the Baby: Men with PPD can have difficulty bonding with the baby. They want to love the child, but feel that love has not started yet. When this happens not only do they think that they are a bad parent, but also they fear that they are not a good person. When speaking about this men will often describe their relationship with their child as blank or indifferent.
5) Increased Consumption of Alcohol or Drugs: Men in general have higher levels of alcohol and substance over-use than women. This is especially true with dad’s who struggle with PPD. Sometimes the new father has an already existing history of alcohol dependency, which increases or sometimes this becomes “something new that I do to take the edge of when the baby does not stop wailing.”
While PPD can be scary and overwhelming, it can be managed, especially with the help of a licensed clinical psychologist. If you are still feeling stuck, feel free to call me in Red Bank, NJ at (732) 747-8818 for a free 15 minute phone consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is happening, set up an appointment, or help direct you to the right person. If you are looking for help with postpartum depression or any other men’s related issue, you can read more about how I can help here.
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I'm a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist with a private practice in Red Bank, NJ.